Woodruff

November 17, 1917: Wedding of Alvira Anness, niece of Margaret Lewis Martin Brodhead

Last week, while browsing articles on Fulton History, I came across this one in The Yonkers Statesman (November 19, 1917) describing the wedding of Alvira W. Anness, daughter of Mary Marsh Martin Anness and the (then) late Winfield S. Anness, in the Anness family home at 223 Warburton Avenue in Yonkers, NY. The house still stands! Click here.

Winfield S. Anness (b. 1861, Stamford, CT) was a widower when he married Mary M. Martin. He had a son with his first wife Mamie E. Valentine (b. 1864): Harold W. Anness (b. 1885). Winfield died in November 1899. I don’t know anything about Harold. If he was still alive in 1917, he was not at this wedding.

My Dad always referred to Great Aunt Mary as “Aunt Mame”, and apparently she was quite a pistol. Born in 1863, she was a younger sister of my great-grandmother, Margaret Lewis Martin Brodhead (b. 1859).  This wedding was in November; Margaret had lost her husband Andrew Douglas Brodhead six months before, in May. Margaret, Alvira’s aunt, is named in the article as one of the attendees.

Woodruff M. Brodhead, b. 1912, with his mother Fannie Woodruff Brodhead

Giving the bride away was my Dad’s Great Uncle Charlie (Charles Conrad Martin); my Dad’s older brother Woodruff, then age 5 1/2, wore a little sailor suit and carried white baskets filled with yellow asters.

Woodruff’s parents (my grandparents) were also present at the wedding, of course. To the left is a photo of Woodruff (“Woody”) and his mother Fannie Woodruff Brodhead. At that stage, he was their only child. He’s wearing a little sailor suit here, so perhaps this photo was also taken during that period. I’m a bad judge of ages, but I’d say he looks about 5 here?

According to the family tree information of Ancestry user “KrehT,” the newlyweds, Alvira and Walter Douglas Barry, eventually had two children: Alvira Martin Barry (b. 1920) and Walter Douglas Barry (b. 1923). Interestingly, this user shows Alvira’s middle name as “Woodruff,” but did not provide any clues as to where that middle name came from. I’d love to know since my grandmother was a Woodruff, one of the original Elizabeth, NJ, families.

Categories: Anness, Brodhead, Martin, New York, Weddings, Woodruff | 1 Comment

Continuation of January 9 post: More Woodruff farm photos from mid-1920s

I forgot I had these two other photos when I did my January 9th post on the Woodruff farm.

My great-grandmother Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff (5 August 1850 – 27 May 1927) with her grandsons, Charles Brodhead (my Dad) and Richard Angus Brown, outside the barn on the Woodruff farm off Conant Street in Hillside, New Jersey

I have no idea who these ladies and the little girl are, but I’m assuming they worked on the Woodruff farm as this photo was together with the other two.

I offer the below as a comparison; you can see the boys all grown up and ready to go to war. They appear in reverse order in the second photo.

Categories: Angus, Elizabeth, Union Co., Hillside Union, New Jersey, Woodruff | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

Memories of the Woodruff farm, “sugar bread,” and picking daisies…

Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff (5 August 1850 – 27 May 1927) with grandsons Dick Brown and Charles Brodhead, circa 1924, at the old Woodruff Farm on Conant Street in Hillside, NJ. The house still stands, but the barn and fields are no more.

The old wooden bucket used in my great grandmother’s kitchen to hold sugar

Last year I came upon the above photo of my great-grandmother Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff. She is pictured outside the barn of the old Woodruff farmhouse in Hillside, NJ. The house still stands, but the barn and surrounding fields were eventually lost to development. This is the only old photo I’ve seen of the premises there, and the fact that it includes my father and his cousin Dick Brown makes it even more special.

When my late Dad retired in the late 1980s, he set out to write down his recollections of the years in his life leading up to his marriage to my Mom; his logic for stopping there was that we all knew what came next. At the time that bothered me, but all these years later, I can see his point. Why potentially ruffle the feathers of your kids and other family members by writing something they may read some day and take the wrong way?

Wm Earl Woodruff & Wealthy Ann Angus on the occasion of their 50th wedding anniversary

Of course, I am exceedingly grateful for the details he left us about his growing up years. Here are some recollections of 1927 that pertain to the old Woodruff family farm house and the wooden sugar bucket (photo, right):

…Grandma Woodruff died. A real blow to everyone. I remember seeing her in her casket in the living room of the old farmhouse on Conant Street in Hillside, NJ. I remember going into the field and picking some daisies and bringing them in the house and placing them in her stone cold hands. I remember the old barn. One day the young hired hand dared me to eat horse feed. I did and got sick as a dog. I remember an old horse-drawn wagon in the yard. Dick Brown (my cousin) and I used to play on it and pretend we were driving. Grandma used to make me ‘sugar bread’. Homemade bread, home-churned butter with lots of sugar on it. She also fed me lots of sweet tea. Nothing not from scratch!…

My Dad’s Grandma Woodruff had six daughters with her husband William Earl Woodruff. I have no contact with descendants of the sisters of my grandmother but, of course, would be pleased to hear from any of them at any time.

Categories: Angus, Death, Heirlooms, Hillside Union, New Jersey, Woodruff | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

Inside the house Francis Woodruff built, circa 1845

Francois Gignoux, View near Elizabethtown, New Jersey, 1847

If you’re like me, you occasionally look up the addresses of ancestors to see if their homes are still standing; and if they are and they happen to be for sale or have sold in the not-too-distant past, you can get a glimpse inside, thanks to all those online realtor photos, many of which seem to linger long after the sale has been made.

Last fall I found a listing for the house my second-great-grandfather Francis Woodruff built circa 1845 in Elizabethtown, NJ, on what was then farmland and in what is now the town of Hillside. Frenchman Régis François Gignoux (1816–1882) painted the above scene around that time. As you can see, it must have been a very bucolic setting in the summertime; Francis and his family made a living off the land, something many living in that part of New Jersey today might find hard to imagine.

I contemplated flying up to NJ to take a look inside but scrapped that idea after all of us in the family contracted type A flu, an event we did not rebound from quickly. Of course, now I regret not getting up there—who knows when the house will be for sale again?

In any case, the house was sold, but many photos remain on Realtor dot com. To look inside, visit this link: Conant Street house. I wrote about this house once before in a post about my grandmother’s wedding in which I included this information from the six-page PDF Eight Colonial Homes, an undated publication put out by the staff of the Hillside National Bank:

A third Woodruff house, while appearing to be the same vintage as the others, was erected about 1845. […] …it is frequently the subject of artists’ paint brushes because of its picturesque setting. It was built by Francis Woodruff, a descendant of Enos Woodruff. A letter from Mathias Woodruff in 1843 to his brother, another Enos Woodruff, comments that he is planning to return from Louisiana to help his cousin, Ezra Woodruff, erect a house for Frank. The letter jokingly said in part: “Frank will want him to put up a house next summer. I have advised him to find out from the neighbors what kind of house he wants, sort of architecture, on which side to put the kitchen, dog house, pig pens. If all parties are satisfied, it will save a great deal of talk.” Oddly enough it was constructed sideways to the road, but when the Westminster section was developed by Edward Grassman in the 1930’s, Revere Drive was placed in front of it, so today it faces a street.

Having seen the interior photos, I can try to picture the family members living there and going about their daily lives. This is where Francis and Mary Jane Trowbridge raised their four children: William, Matthias, Emma, and Phebe. This is where William, who took over the farm, raised his six daughters with wife Wealthy Ann Angus. The house remained in the family until 1928, the year William (b. 1848) died. (Wealthy predeceased him.) By then the six daughters were married with children and living elsewhere. Farmland in Elizabethtown was becoming non-existent as the county’s towns expanded. The Woodruff farm was swallowed up and became part of a housing development in Hillside.

I now read some of my old posts in a slightly new light, better able to imagine the happenings inside the home—this is where Mary Jane got her small children up and dressed in the morning; these are the stairs the Woodruff children, grand-children and great-grandchildren ran up and down through the years; this in the fireplace Francis sat down next to to write his grown children letters while they temporarily lived elsewhere or where he retired to to read their letters—letters to and from William when he was out West sheep farming or letters to and from Matthias when he farming wheat in the Dakota Territory; this is the home in which a teen-aged William wrote letters to his uncles Trowbridge while they were serving in the Union Army; this is the parlor in which the family entertained guests and marked my grandmother’s wedding in 1908 and William and Wealthy’s golden anniversary in 1922, etc.

Of course, the house has been altered through the years, there’s no denying that, but original features remain as you can see in the photos—the wood flooring, the beams, the fireplaces, and the windows, including the diamond-shaped window in the attic.

It’s wonderful to see this house still standing after 170+ years. For that I thank all of its past and present occupants and all of those local citizens who through the decades have appreciated its important heritage.

Categories: Elizabeth, Union Co., Hillside Union, Woodruff | Tags: , , , | 6 Comments

Daguerreotype of brothers William Earl Woodruff and Matthias Woodruff, circa 1853

Sons of Mary Jane Trowbridge and Francis Woodruff, circa 1853

I was thrilled to come upon this old daguerreotype of my great-grandfather, William Earl Woodruff (b. 1848, right), and his little brother Matthias (b. 1851, seated on the left and holding what appears to be a rifle/sword). William has his hand on Matthias’s shoulder; apart from showing his brotherly love, he was perhaps doing his best to keep Matthias from fidgeting while the image was being recorded. Was having Matthias hold the rifle/sword a way to keep his hands still? I suspect so. This is the only image I have ever seen of Matthias, who eventually grew up to marry Mary S. Ayers and, in his 30s, headed out alone to the Dakota Territory to farm wheat. He died an accidental death in Chatham, New Jersey, when in his early 40’s.

Francis Woodruff

Francis Woodruff (1820-1883)

I think Matthias resembles his mother Mary Jane, while William looks more like his father Francis. From previous posts you may remember that the family lived in a farmhouse built by Francis on Conant Street in present-day Hillside.

For more posts on this family, enter ‘Francis Woodruff’ in the search box on the left. Enter ‘Matthias’ for those posts chiefly related to him. As always I recommend reading the posts in chronological order.

Mary Jane Trowbridge Woodruff

Mary Jane Trowbridge Woodruff (1820-1883)

On a different note, I have seen a few trees on Ancestry that show a son named John for this family, and Family Search corroborates this:

“New Jersey, Births and Christenings, 1660-1980,” index, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/pal:/MM9.1.1/FC1S-YHV : accessed 23 March 2015), John Woodruff, 27 Jun 1851; citing Union Twp., Essex, New Jersey, reference v 1 p 132a; FHL microfilm 493,712.

Francis’s father was John Woodruff (1795-1857; husband of Mary Ogden Earl) and  Francis’s older brother was Matthias Woodruff (1818-1844, died of Yellow Fever in Louisiana), so I can see where the names ‘John’ and ‘Matthias’ came from. I am however wondering whether there were two sons by those names or if there was one son named ‘John Matthias’ who was known by family and friends as ‘Matthias’. I have not yet found an exact birth date for Matthias but other information I have places him as being born in 1851 (1860 census, death certificate—aged 42 on day of death April 6, 1893, etc.) So, if there was a John, perhaps he was a twin who died very young? (He is absent from the 1860 census). Personally, I am much more inclined to think that ‘John’ and ‘Matthias’ were one in the same person. Blog readers, please feel free to weigh in!

Categories: Elizabeth, Union Co., Hillside Union, New Jersey, Woodruff | Tags: , | 4 Comments

Grandma’s Class of 1898: Battin High School, Elizabeth, Union Co., New Jersey

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Fannie Bishop Woodruff, HS graduation photo, June 1898

Another treasure has surfaced, this one found within a stack of extremely old newspapers and magazines. And I wanted to share it in the event it helps others locate an image of an ancestor (or two).

My grandmother, Fannie Bishop Woodruff, graduated from Battin High School in Elizabeth, Union County, New Jersey, on June 21, 1898, and the wonderful find is a fabulous and fascinating group photo of her with all of her classmates.

If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you’ll see that I have labelled it with the names listed by my grandmother on the reverse side. I have marked her with a little red heart. A second red heart appears on her cousin Frank W. Russum whose mother was Cecelia Angus, a younger sister of Wealthy Ann Angus Woodruff, Fannie’s mother.

Every little detail makes this photo special—the expressions on the faces, the clothing, the architecture, the lettering on the sign followed by a period, the big wooden chair in the open window, the little flowers (dandelions?) on the lawn, the flower pot… A true slice of life from June 1898.

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Battin High School, June 1898

When it came to trying to match faces to the list of names, I was initially somewhat confused with regards to the order in which she listed the young men (starting from the left, but from the top or the bottom? Same question for the right side).  I found a way to match them to her list by first finding photos of a handful of them in Rutgers College yearbooks (searching in the yearbooks for students from Elizabeth) and then matching the faces. That worked out well, so I feel quite confident that the young men are labelled correctly. (One young man – second from the left in the top row – is not identified—my grandmother left a space where his name should be; read further for my theory on him.)

By the way, those I found who went on to Rutgers were the following:

  • Rutgers ‘02: Frank Winner Russum; Charles Ernest Pett; and Charles Warren Stevens Jr.
  • Rutgers ’05: Emil Eisenhardt Fischer and Frederick Alton Price, Jr.

The yearbooks are available for free online via Rutgers (click the above links) and contain a wealth of information and images, Definitely worth a leaf through if you have time and are interested in getting a glimpse of college student life circa 1900, at what was once an all-male school.

Battin High School, Elizabeth, NJ - image featured in the book City of Elizabeth, New Jersey, Illustrated, 1889

Battin High School, Elizabeth, NJ – image featured in the book City of Elizabeth, New Jersey, Illustrated, 1889

With the ladies, identification was more cumbersome and not entirely successful. First, my grandmother refers to ‘rows’ with the 1st row being the top step and the 6th row being the bottom step. For me, it was difficult, if not impossible, to decide where rows 3, 4, and 5 start and end given the way the young women in those areas are not seated in neat rows. Second, you’ll notice that four are not labelled at all, and that is because my grandmother left empty space at the start of ‘row 5’ as if she planned to go back and fill in the names later. So, I have done my best guessing. (Names that are my best guess are in regular font; those I feel confident about are in bold.)

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Joseph Battin who donated his mansion to the city of Elizabeth for the high school – image featured in the book City of Elizabeth, New Jersey, Illustrated, 1889

Two names of these ladies (Edith Denman and Ethel M. Hall) don’t appear in the commencement brochure (shown below), but they DO appear in the Elizabeth Daily Journal article about the 1897 graduation (that article is also below). Why that is, I have no idea.

There are names in the commencement brochure that likely match five of the people in the photo:

  • Wilbur Van Sant Coleman* / Ora Kenneth Mizter / William John Millin / Richard Pollatschek / Ida Hand / Blanche Irene Hess* / Edna Winifred Lawson / Elizabeth Landrine Reeve / Elizabeth Winifred Roolvink* / Mary Elise ‘Sadie’ Fozard*

Pollatschek would have been a very unusual name for my grandmother to remember and write/pronounce, so perhaps the young man second from the left up top is Richard Pollaschek, who, I discovered, was born in Bohemia and emigrated from Austria to the US with his family.

To throw an additional spanner into the works, the above individuals marked with an asterisk also appear in the newspaper article for the previous year’s graduation… (as do names of some of the others in the photo)… Why that is, I don’t know. What makes things stranger is that Blanche Hess is listed as a participant in the ceremony in the 1898 brochure.

It occurred to me that the group photo could have been taken in 1897 when my grandmother was a junior, but that would not explain the presence in the 1897 newspaper article of so many names of people who aren’t in the group photo. If anyone out there has a theory as to the overlap, let me know.

Anyway, what matters most is that the photo exists, and we are still far ahead of the game of identification thanks to my grandmother who wrote down the names she did, and to my parents who kept the photo since her death in the mid-1960s.

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Prior to being known as Proctor’s, in 1898, this venue was known as the Star Theatre.

Grandmother’s graduation ceremony was held on Tuesday, 21 June 1898, at 7:45 p.m. at the Star Theatre (which later became Proctor’s Theatre and had numerous other names over the years; it was eventually demolished and replaced by the Ritz Theatre) located at 1146 East Jersey Street, less than a mile from the school. At the time she lived on the family farm on Conant Street, Hillside; this must have been a big night out for her parents and five sisters, and of course, for the many other families whose children had grown up together in, what was then, a quickly evolving city.

You can read the article about the 1897 graduation (credit: Digi-find) to get a sense of what the 1898 ceremony may have been like. Apart from the article, below you will also find the 1898 commencement brochure and an excerpt about Battin High School from the 1889 book City of Elizabeth, New Jersey, Illustrated which contains hundreds of interesting photos and descriptions of Elizabeth during that period.

You may have noticed the two young black students in my grandmother’s group photo—James Morris and Mattie Thomas.  James looks exceptionally scholarly in his spectacles and student attire. He is listed in the 1897 article as one of the students who was graduating. The article further stated: “As the graduates went forward to receive their diplomas each received applause. There were two young colored people in the class, and they were especially favored with the expression of the delight of the audience.” That was very gratifying to read and I have no doubt that Mattie and James were just as warmly received in 1898.

A-ha! Lightbulb moment! I noticed that James appeared in the 1897 list as a student in the Commercial Course and in the 1898 brochure as a student in the Regular Course. If I am not mistaken, the same appears to be true of the other students who appear to have graduated twice. So, perhaps, it was common for students to take an extra year to complete the regular course after graduating from the commercial course. That seems like a possible explanation.

I hope you find this post interesting and enjoyable. Please leave a comment if you have anything to correct, add, or share. Thank you!

Update: As luck would have it, I just came across the Elizabeth Daily Journal article for the 1898 graduation. It is included below at the very end. Unfortunately it is not entirely legible, but I can make out my grandmother’s name, and many of the others.

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Categories: Elizabeth, Union Co., Graduations, Hillside Union, New Jersey, Russum, Woodruff | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments

Guest Post: “Grave Marker Dedication of Revolutionary War Soldier Benjamin Woodruff on May 14, 2016”

This post was contributed by Sue Woodruff Noland. Her previous post on the topic of the Woodruff family can be found here.

Benjamin Woodruff Grave Marker - PHOTO COPYRIGHT: SUE WOODRUFF NOLAND

Benjamin Woodruff Grave Marker – PHOTO COPYRIGHT: SUE WOODRUFF NOLAND

Benjamin Woodruff, born 26 November 1744 to James Woodruff* (1722-1759) and Joanna ? (1722-1812), attended the Morristown Presbyterian Church.  He served during the Revolution with the New Jersey militia, leaving behind his wife and 3 children; his wife, Phoebe Pierson Woodruff, died 21 January 1777, aged 36, and one can only hope that Benjamin was able to be there with her and the children.  Benjamin married again 8 July 1778, to Patience Lum, daughter of Obadiah Lum, with whom he had more children he left behind as he served our country.  It has been certified that Benjamin served one monthly tour in 1776 as a drummer; three monthly tours as a sergeant in 1776, including an engagement near Elizabeth, NJ, on 17 December 1776.  He served under various captains to the close of the war.  [information from the genealogical history provided by Charles Marius Woodruff]

Grave marker - Note the misspelling of Freelove Sanford's first name - IMAGE COPYRIGHT: SUE WOODRUFF NOLAND

Grave marker – Note the misspelling of Freelove Sanford’s first name – IMAGE COPYRIGHT: SUE WOODRUFF NOLAND

Those of you who are familiar with Michigan and the Great Lakes, which is where I live, know how variable the weather can be; mid-May average temperature is mid-60s.  On May 14, 2016, the day of the Grave Marker Dedication Ceremony for Benjamin Woodruff, son Andrew and I, both descendants of Benjamin, encountered temperatures in the low 40s and brisk breezes that carried sleety-snowy-rain as we gathered at Forest Hill Cemetery in Ann Arbor, Michigan!

As was common in 1837, when Benjamin died, he was buried the following day and therefore was not accorded a military funeral.  The DAR and SAR strive to provide a service for our forgotten patriots; on this day another Revolutionary War soldier, Josiah Cutler, was honored with our ancestor, Benjamin.

Benjamin Woodruff Grave Market Dedication Ceremony – At podium: Phil Jackson, Huron Valley Chapter SAR – PHOTO COPYRIGHT: SUE WOODRUFF NOLAND

The ceremony began with a welcome from Phil Jackson, Huron Valley Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution (SAR).  Following Phil’s remarks, we watched the posting of colors and standards with bearers dressed in Revolutionary War period uniforms.  Thomas Pleuss, Chaplain of the Huron Valley Chapter SAR, gave the invocation, and then Kate Kirkpatrick, from the local Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) chapter made some remarks, followed by remarks from a representative from each patriot’s family.  Thomas Woodruff and Frank Ticknor (Josiah’s family) each presented a brief history of our respective ancestor.  This portion of the ceremony was conducted about mid-way between the two patriot’s graves.  After family remarks, the ceremony was conducted separately at each grave site.

Thomas Woodruff receiving flag - IMAGE COPYRIGHT: CHUCK MARSHALL - USED WITH PERMISSION

Descendant Thomas Woodruff receiving flag – Sue Woodruff Noland in purple shawl looking on; her son Andrew is on the left in a plaid jacket – IMAGE COPYRIGHT: CHUCK MARSHALL – USED WITH PERMISSION

Benjamin’s grave site is a family memorial with several of his family interred there.  Tom and his son, Michael, generously purchased a marker for Benjamin indicating his service as a Revolutionary War patriot.  (The US government ‘declined’ to provide a marker.)  Our grateful thanks to Tom and Michael’s families for researching Revolutionary War markers and commissioning the marker to be made.  The marker was unveiled before our nation’s tribute, the folding of the flag.  Since there was no flag pole, the ceremony actually involved unfolding a flag brought by the SAR/DAR for the occasion, and then refolding it as a story was told about the meaning of the folds, the last fold being a representation of a mother tucking in her child for the night—a story made up sometime in the past, but a touching story nonetheless.  Once folded, the flag was presented to Tom.  We were then cautioned that the next part of the ceremony would be the military tribute, a 21-gun (and 2 muskets) salute—startlingly loud!

Twenty-one gun salute - IMAGE COPYRIGHT: CHUCK MARSHALL - USED WITH PERMISSION

Twenty-one gun salute – IMAGE COPYRIGHT: CHUCK MARSHALL – USED WITH PERMISSION

The veterans Honor Guard of Washtenaw County (Michigan), the Indiana Society Color Guard, and the Ohio Society Color Guard performed the tribute of three volleys.  The 21 spent shells were given to Tom, who offered one to each of the family as a memento of the day.

Sword Ceremony - IMAGE COPYRIGHT: CHUCK MARSHALL - USED WITH PERMISSION

Sword Ceremony – IMAGE COPYRIGHT: CHUCK MARSHALL – USED WITH PERMISSION

The Sword Salute was by far the most touching part of the ceremony for me.  Three of the Color Guard detached from the group.  The leader explained that, on command, the three of them would tip their tri-corn hats to honor our patriot and then bow, touching the ground with their swords, to show humility for Benjamin’s service to us and our country.  To conclude the ceremony there was a sounding of taps by two buglers.

Both families (Woodruff and Cutler) came together once again after Josiah’s ceremony, for floral tributes from several SAR, DAR, and CAR groups (Children of the American Revolution).  These organizations developed at various times with the objective of keeping alive their ancestors’ stories of patriotism and courage “in the belief that it is a universal one of man’s struggle against tyranny….” [from SAR website]  The conclusion of the entire ceremony was a bagpipe tribute to both soldiers, by Herm Steinman.

Bagpiper who performed at the ceremony - IMAGE COPYRIGHT: SUE WOODRUFF NOLAND

Bagpiper who performed at the ceremony – IMAGE COPYRIGHT: SUE WOODRUFF NOLAND

Chilled to the bone, but eager to meet cousins we didn’t even know existed a few short weeks before, we gathered with Benjamin’s other descendants at Conor O’Neill’s Irish Pub in Ann Arbor, as guests of Tom and his wife, Jane, and Mike and his wife and tiny daughter.  We met ‘new’ cousins, including Tom and Mike’s families, as well as Pam Olander from the Chicago area and reacquainted ourselves with cousins who had attended one of the Woodruff family reunions we organized during the mid-2000s.  The room was quite abuzz with everyone sharing history and asking questions.  Tom told us the motto on our Woodruff Coat of Arms, “Sit Dux Sapientia,” translates as “Let wisdom be your guide;” we had not known the motto, only the shield design.

The day before the ceremony, Andrew and I had met Pam at the Bentley Historical Library on the U of M campus in Ann Arbor.  We spent over two hours poring through Woodruff documents stored at the Library and were finally able to answer a question:  Why would John Woodruff leave England in 1640?  The answer: he seems to have decided that King Charles I was taking too much of the family income via taxes.  Later, it seems our Benjamin, living in the colonies, may not quite have agreed with King George III’s Stamp Act of 1765 (and a few others: sugar tax, currency, etc.), thus leading to his participation in the Revolutionary War a few years later.

If any of you should travel to Michigan in the future, for research at the Library or simply to visit Benjamin’s final resting place (he was moved to Forest Hill from another site), we would love to meet any ‘new’ cousins.

 

*James Woodruff (b. 1722, Elizabethtown, NJ) was the son of Benjamin Woodruff (1684-1726) and Susanna (1686-1727), both of whom were born and died in Elizabethtown, NJ.

Categories: Ann Arbor, CAR, DAR, Lineage Societies, Michigan, New Jersey, Revolutionary War, SAR, Woodruff | Tags: , | 12 Comments

Last group photos of the Woodruff sisters, early 1950s

My garage clear-out yielded these two group photos of my grandmother Fannie B. Woodruff and her five sisters, Jennie, Flora, Mildred, Cecelia, and Bertha—the children of William Earl Woodruff and Wealthy Ann Angus. The photos were damaged and faded, but some “Photoshopping” has helped to revive them a bit. Oldest sister Jennie died in October 1955 so the image was obviously taken sometime prior to that. Sister Flora Ulrich lived out in California, so maybe this photo was taken to commemorate her visit to New Jersey or to mark some other special/solemn occasion, perhaps even the death of one of their spouses. My grandfather died in May 1951 and Jennie’s in December 1953. The location I am not sure of; but I think it may have been my grandmother’s home in Scotch Plains, NJ. I think it’s somewhat sweet that in the top photo they are all looking in different directions as if trying to catch their best sides. In the photos I have of them in their much younger years, all heads were always pointed in the same direction.

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Front Row: Jennie Bell Woodruff Coleman, Fannie Bishop Woodruff Brodhead, Flora May Woodruff Baker Ulrich /// Back Row: Bertha Winans Woodruff, Wealthy Mildred Woodruff Brown, Cecelia Russum Woodruff Van Horn

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Front Row: Bertha (daughter #6) and Jennie (daughter #1) Back Row: Cecelia (daughter #3), Mildred (daughter #5), Fannie (daughter #4), Flora (daughter #2)

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Categories: Brodhead, Brown, Coleman, Elizabeth, Union Co., Hillside Union, New Jersey, Russum, Scotch Plains, Ulrich, Van Horn, Winans, Woodruff | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

Guest Post: “Woodruff Ancestors” by Sue Woodruff-Noland

Today’s post was generously contributed by Sue Woodruff-Noland who got in touch with me several months ago to share some very interesting information on her Woodruff-related travels and Woodruff ancestors. We figured out that our common Woodruff ancestor is John “the Elder” Woodruff (b. 1637, m.  Sarah Ogden), so we are cousins albeit very distant ones! I hope this blog’s readers, particularly those who are Woodruff descendants, will find Sue’s post of great interest. Please feel free to leave comments in the box below.
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St Mary, Fordwich Kent – Royal Arms Royal Arms dated 1688 over chancel arch, “WR”, Willielmus Rex, (King William III). No arms shown or impaled of his wife Queen Mary II (Wikimedia: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Attribution: John Salmon)

The days in Northern Michigan are still warm and steamy, but the rascally squirrels are busy hiding acorns, so I think I need to gather “acorns of wisdom” and share them with the generations of John “The Immigrant” Woodruff (1604, Fordwich, Kent, England), whose descendants are abundant.

Likely you all know the lineage from John and where your lines diverge.  From the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan, my son, Andrew (the family genealogist) and I have further records provided by a descendant named Charles M. Woodruff (1851-1932) that pre-date John “The Immigrant.”  Charles states, “The facts are attested by documentary and historical records; wills, marriage licenses, church rolls, etc.  The generations from our progenitor, John Gosmer, gentleman, Mayor of Fordwich, England, 1638 are eleven generations.”

From Charles’ genealogy:

1503, Thomas Woodruff (1), Fordwich, Eng., a jurat, and “trusted envoy of ye town.”  Died 1552.

William Woodroffe (2), son of Thomas, senior jurat, “key keeper of town chest, a very honorable office conferred upon the two best men of the liberty;” died 1587.

Robert Woodroffe, married Alice Russell at St. Mary Northgate, antiguous to Fordwich, 1573; he and his brother William figure in town books as freemen; William’s line became extinct in 1673; Robert is recorded as jurat and church warden in 1584, died in 1611.

Charles then records John (5), John (6), and John (6)A.  Our common ancestor is John (5), baptized at St. Mary Northgate in 1604.  Hopefully you have been able to follow…vaguely?… along thus far.  Genealogy is not my strong suit; telling stories is.  And here is our story.

In early October 2014 I called Andrew and asked if he would like to go to Ireland to explore our ancestral homeland, Co. Mayo.  Of course, he jumped at the opportunity; he also asked to add on a week in England to explore ancestral areas there, and a two-week trip became three. (Son, Neil, living and working in China, was unable to arrange so much time off work to join us.)

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Fordwich sign (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

About 10 years ago, Andrew serendipitously acquired the 1597 Geneva Bible belonging to the Woodruff family.  Woodruff cousins paid for a specially made box to preserve the remains of the Bible (at least the first five books of the Bible are worn away, i.e., g-o-n-e), though happily and thankfully the center pages remain intact. I bought Andrew a new, sturdy backpack and on 9 May 2015 the Woodruff Family Bible began its ancestral journey back home to Fordwich, Kent, England.

1650 cottage

1650 Cottage (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

We arrived in London 10 May and did a very cursory tour of London, leaving Tuesday, 12 May for Canterbury, arriving around 10 a.m.  After taking luggage from the rear seat and the ‘boot’ to our assigned room, we set out for our ancestral village, Fordwich, about four miles northeast of Canterbury.  Fordwich is Britain’s smallest town and first recorded as an inhabited place in 675 A. D. I’m not sure if we saw the entire tiny village or not.  We walked along sun-dappled lanes, past both a large, modern home and also quaint, sweet little cottages (note the 1650 designation on the cottage pictured here!)

And then, there it was: our ancestor’s church, the Church of St. Mary the Virgin (St. Mary’s Church.)

St. Mary’s Church

Church of St. Mary the Virgin (St. Mary’s Church) (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

The church dates from around 1100, in Norman times. Andrew (I gained several rear shots in 3 weeks!) and I approached the church’s entry along a path through a tree shaded cemetery with assorted tombstones, many of indeterminate (old) dates. St. Mary’s closed in 1995, passing, at that time, into The Churches Conservation Trust—and for this we are very grateful on this fine Tuesday in May 2015.

The_nave_of_the_church_of_St._Mary_the_Virgin,_Fordwich_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1351266

The nave of the church of St. Mary the Virgin (Wikimedia Commons: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Attribution: pam fray)

We entered the church in awe, to think that our ancestors worshiped here, may have been ‘baptized, married, and buried’ from here more than 400 years before.  Not surprisingly, we had the church to ourselves and took our time exploring the nave and North aisle (added in the late 12th century.) The tower was inaccessible and the chancel was blocked by the altar rails, which date from the 1600s and comprise thickly set balusters to stop dogs from defiling the Holy Table.  Nearby was a lectern and that is where Andrew carefully placed our Family Bible.

Woodruff Bible

Woodruff Family Bible (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

There is a benefactions plaque upon the wall in the narthex that lists a Daniel Woodruff, but this name needs to be researched to determine if he is of our line—apparently there were a great many Woodruffs in Fordwich 400 years ago. Later, while touring Canterbury Cathedral, we spoke with a volunteer, perhaps in her 70s, who has lived in Fordwich all her life and she was not aware of any Woodruff family any longer residing in the area.

Organ

Church organ (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

Andrew and I didn’t talk much as we made our way around inside the church, each of us engrossed in our own thoughts. Like church mice, first here, then there, into the vestry, out of the vestry, and back for another look at the old organ.  I imagined someone playing A Mighty Fortress is Our God in the 1600s, if the congregation was wealthy enough to have an organ then?

The Chapel of St. Catherine, in the eastern section of the North aisle, was converted at some point in the church’s history.  The church organ is accessed here in the vestry and was rebuilt in 1889; it came from St. Martin’s Church, Canterbury, in 1908.

box

Fordwich Parish Registers box (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

The Fordwich Parish Registers box was tucked in a corner of the NE side of the nave.  Such boxes would have contained baptism, marriage, and burial records.  Where the records from this box may be stored is unknown (no docent is on site to answer questions.)  It is a lifetime endeavor for us to uncover any records and our family’s history!

bible

Close-up of Woodruff Bible (Photo copyright: Sue Woodruff-Noland)

Though we don’t have the records that may have been stored in the Registers box, I can clarify for you what the entry in our Family Bible reads (rather confusingly, to me):

The Age of Benjamin Woodruff.  He was born November the 26 Anno: 1744.  Being the only one of my grandfather’s family that is now liveing [sic] this March the 23 day Anno 1785.  Benjamin Woodruff was born November 26 A 1744 and died 18 October 1837.  Benjamin Woodruff’s property June 2d A 1805 (?)  Benjamin Woodruff’s property Joanna D (?) 1805 Nov. 5 died July (?) Joanna Benjamin died July 28, 1812.

The Benjamin who died in 1837 is our Revolutionary War soldier, about whom I will write a separate story for you.  I am not aware of any Benjamin who died in 1812, whether I am misreading it, or if the person who wrote it misspoke.  There are multiple Johns and Benjamins in the family, too many for my muddled mind!

The Stour River (Wikimedia Commons: this file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Attribution: Joonas Plaan)

The Stour River (Wikimedia Commons: this file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license. Attribution: Joonas Plaan)

I have about 30 photos taken in Fordwich, mostly inside the church, but about a quarter of them of the outside grounds.  If you ever have the opportunity to visit Fordwich, I think you, too, will be humbled by the history of the settlement of this once important maritime port city on the River Stour where our ancestors once lived…and where, to this day, the Cinque Ports Confederation, an annual Civic service, is still attended by dignitaries from other Cinque Ports, held in our ancestral church.

In July 2016, the Woodruff family Bible was donated to the Bentley Historical Library at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where two or three boxes of Woodruff documents dating back to the 1840s are stored.  All items are available for Woodruff researchers and contain fascinating reading.

Categories: England, Fordwich Kent Co, Woodruff | Tags: , | 5 Comments

July 1952 – Obit for Mrs. Joseph W. Woodruff

Another clipping saved by my grandmother: the brief July 1952 obit for Mrs. Bessie Scott Woodruff (née Fry), widow of Joseph Whitehead Woodruff (b. 1873). Joseph was the son of Ogden Woodruff and Phebe Asenath Bonnell,  younger brother of Rev. Frank Stiles Woodruff, and older brother of Carrie Elizabeth Woodruff. Joseph was one of twelve children in all; the two specifically mentioned have appeared in past posts. The home at 866 Salem Avenue was also featured in a past post: “Old Woodruff Family Homestead: Witness to American History.” My grandmother’s father William Earl Woodruff (b. 1848) was one of Joseph’s cousins, although there was a 25-year age difference between them.

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Angus_BessieWoodruff_obitThe Woodruff House at 866 Salem Avenue - present day

The Woodruff House at 866 Salem Avenue – present day

Categories: Elizabeth, Union Co., Woodruff | Tags: , | Leave a comment

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